Vancouver Bach Festival Brings Back Bach

The Vancouver Bach Festival, presented by Early Music Vancouver (EMV) returns to Christ Church Cathedral and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, July 30 – August 9, 2019. 

J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750) is regarded as one of the greatest composers in Western musical history. His legacy includes some of the most beautiful and well-crafted music ever written. Almost three centuries after Bach’s passing, his vast catalogue of works is still revered, studied, and reinterpreted by music lovers across the globe.

Ensemble Les Boréades de Montréal
photo: Hugo B Lefort

Celebrating EMV’s 50th anniversary, this year’s festival features performances by many the most gifted artists from across Europe and North America. For their second annual ensemble-in-residence program, EMV welcomes Montreal’s internationally acclaimed Ensemble Les Boréades, members of the ensemble perform in multiple concerts throughout the festival.

“For our 50th anniversary we have spared no expense in order to bring our audiences a truly world-class offering of some of the finest artists working in period performance today,” says Matthew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV. “I think the personal, aesthetic, and intellectual connections one can make during a festival are the happy result of a ‘total immersion’ — multiple events in a shorter window of time provide a perspective and engagement that is otherwise near impossible to achieve. By offering concerts from a wide range of exciting composers like Strozzi, Shostakovich, Purcell, Faure, Poulenc, Chopin, Handel, Mozart, and of course, Bach, the opportunities to explore links and parallels are limitless.”

The 14-concert festival commences with Ensemble Les Boréades, bringing a spectacular two-night performance of J.S. Bach’s Complete Brandenburg Concertos at The Chan Centre. The Vancouver Bach Choir also partners with the festival for the first time to perform a programme featuring Faure’s beloved Requiem with a professional core of twenty of the region’s best professional singers, accompanied by award-winning organist Christina Hutten. This year’s Vancouver Bach Festival also collaborates with Vancouver Chopin Society, the Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO), and Pacific MusicWorks.

Vancouver Bach Choir
Photo: Sophie Song

Further highlights include the return of audience favourite soprano Amanda Forsythe with Pacific MusicWorks, in a performance of Handel’s early cantatas, as well as sopranos Suzie LeBlanc and Dorothee Mields’ dramatic interpretations of female composer Barbara Strozzi’s 17th century musings on love and loss. The festival’s popular weekday afternoon concert series also returns, offering diverse and delightful selections of acclaimed musicians and performers.

The festival will come to a conclusion with the presentation of Purcell’s Hail Bright Cecilia at the Chan Centre, featuring six internationally renowned vocal soloists and the PBO led by Alexander Weimann.

To complement the musical lineup, EMV will compliment the festival with an array of thought-provoking film screenings and expert talks, which audiences can enjoy with wine and refreshments in a relaxed atmosphere. 

For tickets and a more details and a complete schedule of all Vancouver Bach Festival events, visit: 

Early Music Vancouver Announces Its 50th Season

Early Music Vancouver (EMV) recently announced its 50th Anniversary, 2019 Vancouver Bach Festival and 2019/20 Main Season programs. 

Dedicated to sharing period music using the instruments and performance traditions for which it was originally composed, EMV is celebrating the anniversary with a season of renowned masterworks and illustrious guest artists. The season’s program includes such diverse works as Benjamin Bagby’s one-man musical telling of Beowulf; masterworks for choir and orchestra by Bach, Handel, and Purcell; early romantic creations by Chopin, Faure, and Schubert; 20th century solo piano pieces by Shostakovich; and world premieres challenging contemporary composers to write for Baroque and period instruments.

As in recent years the 50th anniversary season will host a stellar line-up of returning favourites and international artists, and collaborations with similar music and cultural organizations from Vancouver and abroad. 

Chor Leoni presents Sea Songs & Shanties on February 22, 2020

“This season is a balanced reflection of both our past and future. It promises more opportunities than ever for engagement, enrichment, and education via time travel through almost a thousand years of rich musical history,” says Matthew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV. “With the support of our growing audiences, donors, staff, and volunteers, we have put together an offering overflowing with some of the world’s most esteemed artists specializing in period performance. The opportunity to program such diverse music, stunning talent, and ambitious collaborations is a rare privilege; one for which I continue to be deeply grateful.” 

Running July 30 to August 9, the fourth annual Vancouver Bach Festival will bring an all-encompassing celebration of classical music to downtown Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. The 15-concert festival features evening and afternoon performances at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver and Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC. 

The Pacific Baroque Orchestra presents Handel Messiah’s November 30 Photo: Jan Gates

EMV’s Main Season running from September 28, 2019 to May 3, 2020; includes the Masterworks Series, mainly performed at Chan Centre, and the Cathedral Series, presented at Christ Church Cathedral. 

On April 5, 2020, EMV hosts its 50th Anniversary Gala, offering a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, and excerpts from Haydn’s Creation with the participation of the Vancouver Bach Choir and the Vancouver Cantata Singers. The concert will feature the largest-scale period instrument orchestra ever assembled in Vancouver, demonstrating the recent growth of the regional period instrument scene on the West Coast.

For the dates and details of all of Early Music Vancouver’s Bach Festival and 2019/20 Main Season visit

Chor Leoni brings Mane Event to the tents at Bard

As Bard On The Beach gets underway, Chor Leoni is also readying for its 25th, and final, season performing under the tents at Vanier Park with a new show Mane Event

Chor Leoni Memories of Bard

Mane Event blends the old with the new, folk songs with Broadway, and funk with power ballads in a program guaranteed to thrill you.  At their very first Bard performance, in 1993, the men’s choir premiered a mash-up arrangement by Miles Ramsay that merged Cole Porter’s So In Love with Leonard Bernstein’s Tonight from Westside Story.  For their 25th anniversary this beloved gem returns, along with other favourites culled from their repertoire from years past, including The Impossible Dream, Canadiana MedleyInto the West, and the tongue-twisting Trinque L’amourette. The production isn’t just about looking back at their past, it will include new arrangements including Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes, Try Everything (sung by Shakira in Zootopia), and a high-energy Lady Gaga/Madonna mash up.

Mane Event is the choir’s opportunity to shake out their manes for their 25th and final production at Vancouver’s favourite summer venue. Expect familiar tunes, mind-boggling choreography, over-the-top costumes, and a crackerjack band as the lions close out their season with a wink and a roar.  Add in amazing choreography, fantastic costumes, and a crackerjack band led by Ken Cormier and it’s clear this more than just a concert. 

Chor Leoni Men’s Choir (“choir of lions”) is recognized as one of North America’s premiere ensembles and performs to over 15,000 patrons each year. A local treasure, the choir has been voted Best Local Classical Vocal Ensemble four years in a row by the Georgia Straight readership, and Best Choir in the WestEnder’s Best of City 2017 poll.

MANE EVENT takes place Monday June 25,  and Monday July 2 at 3pm and 8pm in the BMO Mainstage Tent at Bard on the Beach, Vanier Park. Tickets start at $30 online at

Early Music Vancouver welcomes early opera Orfeo

Chan Centre for Performing Arts

This weekend, Early Music Vancouver (EMV) presented Monteverdi’s Orfeo, at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, at UBC.  Often described as a “game changer” in the history of music, the historic work marks the end of the Renaissance and the beginning of the Baroque. Orfeo was brought to life under the guidance of GRAMMY award-winner and Monteverdi specialist, Stephen Stubbs, leading the singers and musicians of Seattle’s Pacific MusicWorks. This production starred Vancouver’s Colin Balzer, an internationally celebrated tenor in the title role, and also included San Francisco’s Dark Horse Consort, North America’s most respected  17th century wind ensemble.   The surprisingly lively work is a relatively quick 2 hour performance.  Even though this was a performance sung in the original Italian, it was filled with bold performances lead by Balzer’s emotional turn as Orfeo.

Chan Centre for Performing Arts

Monteverdi’s Orpheo follows the Greek musician and demi-god, Orfeo (Orpheus in the original legend), who after losing his beloved Euridice to a snake bite, descends into Hades to use the power of music to convince the god of the underworld, Plutone, to return his beloved to life. Orfeo sings and plays so convincingly that Plutone agrees to grant his request, but on one condition – that he not look back when leading his love out of the darkness. Tragically, Orfeo, wracked by doubt and unable to control his own passion, glances back, condemning his beloved to an eternity in darkness, and Orfeo to a life without love. Returning to the light alone, Orfeo sings one of the most poignant and powerful laments in operatic history, ultimately reaching the ears of his father Apollo, the God of Music. Out of pity for his son, Apollo descends from the heavens to bring Orfeo comfort, thereby restoring balance to the world.

Early Music Vancouver produces a series of classical and choral works throughout the year. Visit for the full calendar and more information.

2nd Annual Vancouver Bach Festival Aug 1-11, 2017

Photo: Jan Gates

Following the success of last year’s festival, Early Music Vancouver welcomes the 2nd Annual Vancouver Bach Festival, August 1 – 11, 2017.   With performances at the Christ Church Cathedral downtown Vancouver, and at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, EMV offers a remarkable program of 14 concerts, ranging from intimate chamber music programmes to a full Passion Oratorio, and features over 60 performers from around the world.

Inspired by the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, this year’s festival is a celebration of music’s ability to transform and persuade. The festival honours the genius of Bach and other composers who were so profoundly shaped by Luther’s influence.  The Vancouver Bach Festival opens August 1st with Overtures to Bach, Canadian cellist Matt Haimovitz performing four of Bach’s Cello Suites.  The festival then reaches its stirring finale with Bach’s St. John Passion on August 11 at the Chan Centre.  Special guests performing in 2017 include two world-class vocal ensembles from Europe: Cinquecento and Gli Angeli Genève, whose internationally-acclaimed members will perform both as ensembles and soloists in other programmes throughout the festivities.

“Our second annual Vancouver Bach Festival is a celebration of music’s power to move people’s hearts and minds,” says Matthew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV. “More than a historical examination, this year’s festival is an incredible opportunity to be inspired and transformed by wonderful music and gifted artists from all over the world.”

Even 250+ years after his death, J.S. Bach is still regarded as one of the greatest composers in Western musical history, his vast catalogue of beautifully crafted classics are still revered, studied, and reinterpreted by music lovers across the globe.

In addition to the musical programming Early Music Vancouver is offering a  series of free film screenings complementing some of the concerts as well as a range of expert talks. For a full program of the concerts, screenings and talks and to purchase tickets visit

Ten Vancouver Island Summer Music Festivals

Summer is always the season of outdoor music festivals and concerts. While the lower mainland’s music festivals tend to get the bulk of the buzz and attention, Vancouver Island is becoming a major destination for music festivals of all styles, attracting big names and small.

Just in time for your summer holidays, the next few weeks finds a multitude of music festivals all over Vancouver Island. Here’s a few of them;
Rock the shores

Vancouver Island Music Festival: Comox Valley Fairgrounds, Courtenay – July 8 – 10, 2016
Acts include: 54-40,  The Trews, Serena Ryder, Jim Byrnes, Ashley MacIsaac, John Prine

The Phillips Backyard Weekender: Phillips Brewery Backyard, Victoria – July 8 – 10, 2016
Acts include: Milky Chance, The Funkhunters, A Tribe Called Red, Bahamas, The Magnificent DJ Jazzy Jeff

A Very Musical Weekend: Morningstar Farm/Little Qualicum Cheesworks – July 16 – 17, 2016
Classical Saturday with Pinnacle Brass Quintet, Jazz Sunday with Dockside Drive Band

Chemainus Bluegrass Festival: Waterwheel Park, Chemainus – July 16-17, 2016
Acts include: FarmStrong, The Spinney Brothers, Clover Point Drifters, Harmony Ridge & Friends

Rock The Shores: West Shores Parks & Rec Fields – July 22 – 24, 2016
Acts include: City and Colour, Metric, The Arkells, Current Swell, The Cat Empire, Jon & Roy

Sunfest: Laketown Ranch, Cowichan Valley – July 28 – 31, 2016
Acts include: Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Dallas Smith, Neal McCoy, The Road Hammers

Filberg Festival: Filberg Lodge & Park, Comox – July 29 – Aug 1, 2016
Acts include: Bellflowers, Great Lake Swimmers, Alex Cuba, Twin Kennedy, Melanie Dekker

Symphony by the Sea: Mafeo Sutton Park, Nanaimo – Aug 8, 2016
Free concert by Vancouver Island Symphony with Tenor Ken Lavigne and Child Piano Prodigy Kevin Chen

Longwoodstock Beer & Music Festival: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo – Aug 12 – 13, 2016
Acts include: Daniel Wesley, WiL, Northcote, John Middleton

Rifflandia Festival: Royal Athletic Park + various venues – Sep 15 -18, 2016
Acts include: Jurassic 5, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Wolf Parade, X Ambassadors, De La Soul, Keys & Krates, Lee Scratch Perry

Clean Bandit wrap West Coast tour

CleanBandit_IMG_7258UK electronic group, Clean Bandit wrapped up their 6 week tour of Western North America last week.  Their penultimate show brought them to the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver for an hour long energy-filled show.  The quartet of Grace Chatto, Jack Patterson, Luke Patterson, and Neil Amin-Smith were lead by tour vocalist Elizabeth Troy who belted through their distinct blend of classical and electo-pop, with a dose of dance-hall for good measure.

In spite of just having one full length release, New Eyes, and a few EPs, the mostly university-aged crowd eagerly danced their hearts out and through their hand up for the groups catching tunes. Kicking off with #2 charting Real Love and wrapping up with Grammy-winning Rather Be, the setlist and Commodore was filled with energy.

While Clean Bandit has headed back to Europe for May, they return for a few dates on the East Coast of North America in June, so catch them if you ca